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What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution?

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Quick Answer

The United States Constitution provides the foundation for a strong central government with authority to regulate interstate disputes and commerce, enforce citizens' rights and defend from hostile forces. However, much of it is too vague to provide definitive interpretations. It can be amended, but the process is slow. Citizens vote for representatives directly but don't get a direct vote on policies. There is no way to address bipartisanship.

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What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution?
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Full Answer

The Constitution is the structure of fundamental political precedents, procedures and principles that the federal government has operated from since its creation in 1789. It delegates certain responsibilities to federal bodies and others to states. The Constitution divides federal powers between three main branches defined by the separation of powers doctrine and provides a system of checks and balances to prevent one branch from overpowering the others.

The original portions of the Constitution, which included the Bill of Rights when ratified, are very specific about certain topics but vague about most others. Because it is vague, the Constitution is a living document, one that can adapt to changes by adding amendments and through judicial interpretation. This can be either a boon or a hindrance. Amendments add clarity to existing constitutional structure or add rights or restrictions. The original Constitution claimed to favor individual liberty but provided no support for women or slaves. In many cases, existing laws were exploited to keep these groups firmly situated. The 13th Amendment, in 1865, abolished slavery; the 14th, in 1870, made slaves citizens, gave black males the right to vote and guaranteed everyone equal protection under the law; and the 19th, in 1920, gave women the right to vote. Adaptability is the Constitution's greatest strength, but change requires great effort and time.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the Preamble to the Constitution?

    A:

    The Preamble to the United States Constitution is a written introduction to the statutes listed in the Constitution. The brief paragraph, written by the Constitutional Convention in 1787, is said to be the statement that outlines the intents and purposes of the Constitution, which serves as the supreme law of the United States of America. The full body of the text can be found at the National Constitution Center's website.

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  • Q:

    Can you view the preamble to the Constitution?

    A:

    The preamble to the United States Constitution is posted on several official federal websites, including the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress and the U.S. State Department's International Information Programs. Gouverneur Morris, who is one of the Founding Fathers of the country, is credited for penning the preamble.

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  • Q:

    What are the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

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    The 27 amendments to the United States Constitution are additions that were ratified by the required number of states and have formally become part of the Constitution. The original 10 amendments were established in 1791, and the remaining amendments have been gradually adopted over time.

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  • Q:

    What does the phrase "do ordain and establish this constitution" mean?

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    The phrase "do ordain and establish this Constitution" in the preamble to the United States Constitution is an expression of popular sovereignty. Political authority in the United States is derived from the people rather than from God or any other source. The government can only govern so long as it reflects the will of the people and has their consent to do so.

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